Milestones, TV, Video — October 3, 2012 at 7:50 am

Milestones: Sinead O’Connor tore up pope’s photo on ‘SNL’ 20 years ago tonight

We’ve posted this before, but it’s worth re-visiting: Exactly 20 years ago tonight, Sinead O’Connor largely derailed what had been a promising career when she appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and, in the most infamous of her many controversial acts, tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while urging viewers to “fight the real enemy.”

O’Connor’s a cappella rendition of Bob Marley’s “War” — with lyrics slightly altered to protest sexual abuse of children — was edited out of re-runs of the Oct. 3, 1992, episode (often replaced with a Pope-less version taped at dress rehearsal) — and has since become one of SNL’s most controversial and spontaneous moments. NBC rarely allows it to be seen, but, of course, it lives on online — and you can watch via the clip posted above.




  1. If someone tore up a photo of The Pope on SNL now, it would get laughs and jeers and there would be no controversy. However, if someone tore up a photo representing Mohammad, the Muslim world would go ape shit again.

    • Ed Bulwer-Lytton

      Stan, it is a blasphemy in Islam to depict the Prophet Mohammed in ANY way. Please don’t compare. Please respect.

      • Then Muslims shouldn’t depict the Prophet Mohammed. It’s not their role to dictate to the rest of the world what we can and cannot do.

  2. I never understood why this was so controversial. I always thought it was great that she was outspoken about the corruption and hypocrisy of institutions. It is a shame that the incident had such an impact on her future career. Her first three albums are all fantastic.

  3. Yes I was a little upset about this at the time. However, all has been forgiven.

  4. She ripped that photo to protest the Catholic Church’s non-response to charges of widespread child molestation. 20 years later, we’ve all caught up with that news. She was ahead of the curve then, very brave and paid an huge price for it.Her latest album, by the way, is absolutely fantastic.

  5. I saw it!! I concur with Stan and Andrew….

  6. Saw it live and totally agree with Stan and Andrew. Thought whatever then and I think whatever now. People are way too uptight.

  7. Sinead is amazing, one of the few artists around today fighting the good fight.
    The Catholic Church is full of corruption, just look at todays Pope…jeez!

  8. She’s always been a complete loon (who only really became famous on the back of a Prince cover) but taking a stand against religous organisations is always a good thing.

  9. I applauded when she did that. And now the World knows she was speaking the truth. And “Paul” Sinead was much more than a loon famous for a Prince cover. Her first 2 albums were beyond great. So what if she became famous for a cover. Go to bed.

  10. Beyond great? Haha!! Her music was average pop rock and dont tell where to go son.

  11. Sinead O’Connor tore up the Popes photo in protest to her enslavement in The Magdalene Laundries in Ireland. It is owned by the Vatican and operated by the church. Look up the info on the laundries.

  12. JESUS IS LORD!!!!!

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